by Psyche-b

Chapter 5


Disclaimers: can be found in chapter 1 as always. Many thanks to my friend Tonja who Beta read this chapter for me.


For two day and nights Cassie and Maude took turns sponging of the fevered girl. The constant vigil took it's toll on the two women and each was on the verge of collapse. Their only respite was brief naps

before once again waging battle against the fever. Doc was going to divide his time between the ranch and the settlement when two of the residents developed

typhoid. To make it easier on all of them, a decision was made to move the sick women and any other

ranchers who developed the illness to the ranch, which was the central point in the area. Instead of moving the sick to town, he would stay there while the other doctor took care of the rest of the town. The sheriff would run the supplies they would need into

them. Within hours of making the decision, the large house served as a hospital for several sick people and their families. When the bedrooms were all filled they would use the remaining rooms if needed.

The women from the settlement pitched in to help nurse the sick, forcibly spelling Cassie and Maude. Cassie especially did not want to leave the girl's side. The sight of the fever racked face touched her heart in ways she had never dreamed. Fever induced delerium caused the girl to thrash about rave. While listening Cassie found out for certain who she was as she fought many battles in her ravings. Cassie listened as she started yet another bout of rambling.I can't marry him....I don't love him...I'm not like

the other girls...I don't want a man in my life...Please don't make me marry him...I want to experience life...He'll want me to stop

teaching...Can't marry him...Have to get away...Help me mama...Please help me...I'll go away... North, I head North...I'll follow the old woman from my dreams

and go to the mountains...She said go to the mountains...She's waiting for me...Please help me..."

Cassie held her hand as she raved. Replacing the wet cloth on her fevered brow as she listened. She stared at the picture of the girl they were looking for.

She looked from the girl to the picture and she knew this was Victoria. She knew she would protect her. She would help her. She leaned over and said softly.

"Don't worry, you're safe here. I'll protect you." The sound of Cassie's voice seemed to get through the haze of delerium and the girl quieted. Cassie kept a tight hold on the girl's hand until the door opened. Maude came in with one of the women from the

settlement. She had a friendly face with honey brown eyes that looked out from under a riot of blonde curls. They were followed by a slightly taller women with her dark hair tied back from her serious tanned face and carried a pail of water.

"Cassie, you're being relieved. Go get some rest." "I'd rather not leave her right now. I just got her quieted down."

"We'll stay with her. You haven't left this room since last night." Stated the blonde.

"No thanks Ellie, She needs me to be here." "How can that be, she's unconscious." said the dark haired woman.

"Ruth I don't know how she knows I'm here but she does and she needs me."

"Then she will need you to be alert, not half asleep on your feet." Ellie stated.

"Hey I think I just saw Rebecca down by the corral. you two seemed to hit it off. Why not go visit with her if you don't want to sleep." Ruth said with a wink.

"No thanks." Cassie answered quickly.

"But I thought..."

"You thought wrong. We're just friends. We had some fun together but we will never be more than friends. We both know that."

"You may know that but she sure doesn't." "Sounds to me like you really need to talk to her" Maude interjected. "Especially if we are going to be together for a long time. It would definitely make things a bit easier if there wasn't any more tension or misunderstanding."

"Ya not scared of her are you." Ruth teased.

Cassie felt her anger rise and through gritted teeth she growled. "There's only one thing in this world that scares me and she isn't it." She gained control of her temper when Maude touched her arm. "Look just give me a minute will you then I'll take a short break."

"All right, you have one minute. That is all I will give you. We'll wait outside" She motioned the two women to leave and followed them. Cassie waited until the door closed before she leaned over and whispered into the girl's ear.

"Victoria, I don't know if you can hear me, but I'm going to believe you can, so you listen to me. I have to leave for a short time but I will be back. So you

just hang on. Okay? I will return." She smoothed> the short blonde hair and placed a gentle kiss on the

top of her head. Grabbed the picture and walked to the door. She wondered what possessed her to make that

gesture. "Because I wanted to do it dammit" She told herself.

She opened the door where the women waited. Nodding to them she walked silently down the stairs to the porch.

to be continued in chapter 5b very shortly

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